Alum Johnson ushers Garfield into new era
By Doug Drowley
Special to The Times
The changes came swiftly and numerously for the Garfield girls swim team.
Just a year ago, the Bulldogs rode a big performance from sophomore Marley Cross and cast to a 10th-place finish at the 4A state meet. When Garfield next competes at King County Aquatics Center in November, it will be as a newly-minted 3A squad.
Garfield rejoined the Metro League beginning this fall. While Cross, now a junior, is among the returners, much more has changed with the program.
Patrolling the deck these days is new coach Mary Johnson. Just five seasons ago, Johnson was in the pool, swimming for Garfield. Johnson went on to Washington State University, and graduated this past spring.
Johnson, who didn’t swim at WSU, returned to Seattle, grabbed up her longtime summer job as a lifeguard at Pop Munger Pool, but also took on some extra duties.
“I coached the summer swim league at the City of Seattle pool where I lifeguard,” Johnson said. “So I’m fairly new to coaching.”
When the job at her alma mater came open, Johnson had no qualms about applying.
“I wanted to do it because I love swimming. I am passionate about it. I am passionate about coaching it,” Johnson said. “I remember being on the team and loving it. I don’t know if I really thought about whether I would get (the job) or not.”
Last Friday, she got her first win as a high school coach in the Bulldogs first meet of the season – a home 131-38 dual meet victory over Eastside Catholic.
Several of the newcomers to Garfield’s program carried a load for the Bulldogs. Freshmen won four events. Senior captains Jackie Monstream and Olivia Borgmann also contributed.
Cross, who is the defending 4A 100 freestyle state champion (she was second in the 50) didn’t even swim.
“We have some really amazing freshmen,” Johnson said. “As a program, we have a lot of good talent. I’d like to see it grow.”
Of the 45 girls turned out this fall, five freshmen made early contributions – Millicent McFall, Anna Vinnedge, Amy Li, Lila Green and Ani Harriott. Jocelyn Crawford, another junior that finished second in 4A in the 100 breaststroke a year ago, also is back.
“Coaching them (Cross and Crawford) is a little different,” Johnson said. “They know what they’re doing very well. When they get in the pool, it’s amazing. The other girls swim better and faster when they’re in there.”
Johnson’s goal is to raise the level for the rest of the Bulldogs.
“It’s very exciting,” the first-year coach said. “I’m looking forward to the meets, to all of them working toward the same goals. I want to see even more of our seniors (like Monstream and Borgmann) at state.”